For all my talk about the importance of having conversations with customers, I actually really dislike talking on the phone with people. It all started when I was a just-turned-teenager, and some of my friends were starting to get into the phone-addiction phase that many adolescents do. Conversations would go like:
Friend: “Hey, wanna come over and watch the game? It starts in 15 minutes.”
Me: “Sure! I’ll be right over.”
Friend: “Did you hear about what Andrew did at school today?”
Me: “No, but let’s talk about it when I’m there in 15 minutes.”
Nowadays, my irritation is more around the requisite polite communications conventions that go with a phone conversation. Hi, how are you. How about those Red Sox. How was your weekend? Some thunderstorm last night, huh? My preferred method of communication, email, avoids all that. And it’s asynchronous, so questions and replies are at my schedule (and the other party’s); not demanding instant response. Perhaps I’d be even happier if we all still communicated by post and the phone and internet didn’t even exist – then there would be a delay of days between query and reply.
Even instant messaging has most of the problems of telephoning, including the “polite” requirements: Hi ru there? KThxBye. I find the measure of how comfortable I am with the people I work with is the degree to which these can be eliminated. My closest colleagues don’t get salutations on their emails or even the “S.” that I usually sign with.